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Holy Sweat - Part 9

Humble Yourself

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(9/21) So, how are you doing? Are you exercising? Someone, I know had gained a lot of weight. A couple of days ago, I saw him and immediately noticed that he had lost some, though not all of the added weight. Diet and exercise was reshaping his appearance and it was noticeable. Becoming more like Jesus is also noticeable. But you and I know it is not easy. Too many Christ followers want it to be easy, natural, effortless, but sadly it is not. Neither is losing weight (I know). We want to think that we can eat our way to a good physique; or, just take a pill, or drink a smoothie and watch the weight melt off. Maybe if we got one of those magic wraps and put it around our waist or legs or arms, they would get skinny. But the truth is, that getting in shape, or acquiring our desired weight is work and cannot be obtained without strenuous effort. This is what Paul is telling Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, "Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."

Ringo Starr said, "It donít come easy." It doesnít happen by just attending church or seminars, or conferences, or retreats. It doesnít happen by watching TV preachers. It only happens when you establish the goal for your life that God has already established for you. He determined that His goal is that you become like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29), that you would model your life after His (cp. also Eph. 4:17 following). He is personally involved in all the details of your life for that purpose. He wants to conform you; that is, to change you from one form to another. Itís called morphing. Itís what a caterpillar does to become a butterfly. God wants us to reflect the image of Jesus. Itís that simple. But for that to happen we have to change. One of the biggest changes that we have to make is, we have to morph from being self-centered people to servants. We have to ditch our pride and take on the apron of a servant.

We could spend several weeks on this subject but I want you to notice several key scriptures.

The first is Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you, But to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Please notice, this is not an elective but it is a required course. 3 things that God requires from His children. It is required that we do what is right and seek what is right; that is, to do justly. We must love mercy; that is, to love others as Jesus loved us. And we must lose our pride and arrogance and live humbly in our relationship with our Father in Heaven. You canít do any of these in front of the TV.

Second, Deuteronomy 8:1-3 Ė Coming from Egypt to the Promised Land, Israel had seen the 10 plagues and Godís blessing. In order for them to not be full of themselves God needed to humble them without humiliating them. Know this, the basic idea of the word humble or humility is to bow low. It is to recognize another or others as superior or of greater worth and importance than yourself. The testingís and trials that Israel went through in the wilderness had the intended purpose of conforming their character from pride to humility; from believing that they were of superior worth, and/or had accomplished what they had or what they were about to receive by their own abilities, to dependence on God. That is the gist of all of Deut. 8. For me, personally, this chapter is one of the anchors for my life. It reminds me that God rescues us, than because He wants us to morph, He trains us, by testing us so that we will trust Him and know that He is here with us to supply us and help us and we can rest in Him and He gets the glory. I challenge you to spend a week meditating in Deut.8, especially as we get close to Thanksgiving.

Third, letís look at Paulís letter to the Philippians. Ch. 2, two things I want you to know about this letter. First, Paul wanted to warn the Philippians about some Jewish preachers that were teaching a prosperity gospel (Ch. 3). He also wanted to solve a problem of division in the church. We donít know what the division was about but it appears that it involved two women (Ch. 4). A side note here. Sometimes when there are differences of opinion, the bottom line has to be how does my opinion reflect or relate to the 3 great commandments of the New Testament. How is my response demonstrating my love for God? How is my response demonstrating my love for others as Jesus loved me? And, how is my response helping to reach the world with the Gospel? For the sake of what is really important, we will agree to disagree about other things. You must get that!

Now chapter two. (Read vv. 1-11). Letís key in on verses 5-8. "Let this mind be in you." Literally, start thinking like this; develop this attitude. Think kike Jesus! Develop His attitude; that is, same one that Jesus had. Jesus was God, but He willingly bowed low, even to His own creation. He willingly determined to serve His creation (Something Allah would never Ėever do). He bowed low to the Fatherís will and in complete obedience would die, for sinners such as I.

This may well be the most important aspect to focus on in our exercises. Humility is more than a virtue, it is a discipline. Gary Thomas wrote, "We donít become humble as much as we practice humility." Paul said, "Let this mind be in you, adopt this attitude, start thinking like this." We know that our Lord Jesus was humble. The only place where He describes His own character is Matthew 11:28-20, "Ö For I am meek and lowly (or gentle and humble) in heart. And, on several occasions He instructs us by saying, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, (by another), but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." On at least one occasion He said, "Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." The point here is that you must humble yourself.

James 4:10 says, "Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up," and, "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble." (4:6)

Peter repeats those same words and adds, "all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humilityÖ therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:5-6) Peter uses an interesting word picture here. The words he chooses literally says, "Tie humility around you like a servantís apron." I am just imagining that his mind is flashing back when he wrote this to that evening when Jesus, upon hearing that the boys were arguing about the pecking order in the Kingdom, took off his shirt and tied a towel around his waist like a slave and washed their feet. That, my friends, is bowing as low as you can go. And He chose to do that. He didnít have to. Peter didnít want Him to. He was the Messiah, He was Godís Son for crying out loud. This is not right. We should be washing His feet, kissing His ring, asking how to serve Him, but He is here washing our feet. God is doing the lowest service possible for his rebellious creation. Peter says, "Tie that apron on. Be submissive and practice humility."

Note, that Jesus, James, and Peter all say, "God resists the proud, and those who exalt themselves will be humbled." This is not a sermon about the proud. But the proud are basically, those who donít want to bow down; they donít want to be submissive, they donít want to serve others; and they donít want any help from God or anyone else. They essentially want people to know what they have accomplished on their own. The operative words for the proud is I, Me, My, Mine. Their theme song is I Did It My Way. (Canít you hear Sinatra, or Presley, or Sammy Davis Jr. singing that right now?) The proud say they donít need God or that they are blessed by God because of what they do or can do; like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11. "God, you are lucky to have me, look at all I do and donít do." Arrogance seeks to obligate God. It tells God that He owes me because of what I do or donít do. The humble says, "I deserve nothing, and am grateful for everything. I come to God for grace and mercy," like the tax collector in the story.

So for the next few minutes, let me give you some ways to practice humility. Are your ready?

1. Practice Submission (1 Peter 2:13; 5:5; Eph. 5:21) Submission is placing yourself under authority, assuming a lower rank. It is an essential for Christ-followers. We are to submit to every created institution, the Church, our Government, our spouse, and our employer.

I love stupid comedy. One of my all-time favorite movies is the Princess Bride. Farm boy serves Princess Buttercup, and whenever she asks or tells him to do something, he always responds with "As you wish." "As you wish," is how she recognizes him after 5 years of separation. "As you wish," is exactly what we need to say to our spouse, our Church, and to anything that doesnít violate Godís word by our Government, and our employer. "As you wish," is what we need to say every day when we open Godís word. Peter says this is Godís will that by doing good (being submissive) we can put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

2. Practice Serving (Phil. 2:1-4) Whose feet can you wash? Who might be considered beneath you? What job might be considered beneath you? Where can you tie on the slaveís apron and help someone. It might be in Church, in your community, in Mexico, the Appalachians, the inner city of Baltimore, Washington, Frederick, or your neighborhood. This will be our whole lesson in two weeks. When James and John were jockeying for position in Mark 10, Jesus said, that the whole world wants to show their authority by putting people in their place, using rank to command those under them, but we donít roll that way. The way up, for us, is down. Kingdom people tie a slaveís apron on and serves others, "For even the Son of Man didnít come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:44-45)

Please forgive my bluntness, but if you arenít submissive and if you arenít serving, you arenít humble. You arenít Morphing. You arenít meeting the requirements of a Christ follower. For you, following Christ is just a Sunday experience or one in which you are looking for people to meet your needs. Jesus humbled Himself and took on the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7) so He could help people.

3. Practice Seeking to Honor Others. Our Lord told us in Luke 14 that when you are invited to a wedding feast, look for the last parking space in the lot and the table farthest from the front. It would be better for the host to say move up than to embarrass you and say you are in the wrong seat. Most people look for the closest parking spot and the seat in the front (unless it is church). We are like Bob Uecker, we must be in the front row. Paul says in Phil. 2:4, "in lowliness if mind, let each of you consider others better than Himself."

4. Practice Secrecy (Matthew 6) Jesus our Lord said that when you give, pray or fast donít make a show of it. In fact donít let anyone know at all. This is a, me and God thing. When I inform people of what I am doing or what I have done, I am seeking their approval, perhaps their applause. I am looking to exalt myself in their eyes. I am seeking for others to believe I am a special person. Donít advertise or broadcast your spiritual exercises. We want God alone to receive the Glory.

5. Practice Simplicity. (Luke 3:11) Listen, so often our homes, our cars, our clothes, our restaurants, our toys, are to show that we have arrived. We want others to know that we have arrived. We want people that we donít even know to know that we have arrived. Jesus didnít have a place to lay His head. Paul says that having food and clothing we are to be content. I love it when I hear of a famous and wealthy person living in a simple house and driving a pick-up truck and being involved in his or her community. Practice contentment and simplicity.

6. Practice Seeing Yourself as God sees you. Totally dependent on Him. Jesus says that without him you can do nothing. (John 15). That is a major point of Deut. 8. You canít live without the word of God, and without Godís provision. Itsí like that song, My Tribute, "All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Him, To God be the GloryÖ"Thatís why we pray for our daily bread, and praise Him for everything we have. Thatís why we turn to Him for every need. Thatís why we cast all our care on Him and when we are anxious we pray about everything. (1 Peter 5:6; Phil. 4:6). Trust in God for the rewards, whether it is now or when we kneel before Him. For He will exalt those who humble themselves.

7. Practice Seeking the Glory of God (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:13). Humility means I defer the glory, I get to God. I am just a servant doing my job. By the way, have you ever seen an award ceremony where a person is honored for bravery in rescuing or saving someoneís life? Everyone I have ever seen has the recipient saying something like, "I just did what I was trained to do. I just did my job. I donít deserve this honor." Luke 17:10 says, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ĎWe are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.í"

8. Practice Sincere Confession (Lev. 26:41; 2 Chron. 7:14). I practice humility when I sincerely let God search my heart and confess my sins to Him as we discussed last week. But if I blame others, or minimize my sin, or rationalize why I sinned, or try to justify my sin, or just ignore my sin, I am not humble. Listen carefully! Humility is an absolute essential to God hearing and answering our prayers.

9. Practice being Secure with Godís Presence in Your Life. (Isa. 57:15; John 14:23) God hangs out, and is present in the lives of the humble. The Good News is not just that we get to go heaven when we die, but that the God of the universe that gave Himself for us, is always with us. I can do and be all He wants me to be, including being humble because God is with me. Jesus said that if we love Him and abide in His word, that He and the Father would make their home with us, in us, and He will always be with me, will always love me, and will always help me do His will.

10. Practice being Secure in Godís rewards. He will exalt you. He will lift you up. He exalted Jesus and He will exalt you. It may not be until we stand before Him or it may be in this life, but He will do it. We want to hear Him say, "Well done, my Good and Faithful servant, enter into the kingdom and the joy I have prepared for you. Here is your crown, your robe, your home, your kingdom."

There you have it. Exercises to help you practice humility. One author said, "Humility is thinking less about yourself, not thinking less of yourself." It doesnít mean that we pretend that we arenít blessed or gifted. Jesus was secure in who He is and we should be too. But He used all He is and had to serve others and glorify His father.

Letís pray about it.

If this life lesson has encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman